Japanese actor Mako, born Makoto Iwamatsu, has spent most of his professional career in the United States. His first important film appearance was as Po-Han, Steve McQueen's assistant machinist, in The Sand Pebbles (1966), a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination. He remained in films into the 1990s, playing choice character parts in such films as Hawaiians (1967), Conan the Destroyer (1984), and Rising Sun (1993). Mako's TV credits include the role of Major Oshira on the weekly Hawaiian Heat (1984) and the 1990 TV movie Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Lived with his grandparents in Japan while his parents were in the U.S. studying art.
- In 1949, after the war ended, joined his parents in the U.S.
- Attended the Pratt Institute with the intention of studying architecture.
- In the 1950s, enlisted in the military.
- In 1956, became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
- Trained at the Pasadena Community Playhouse in California.
- Co-founder of the East West Players, the nation’s first Asian-American theater organization, established in 1965.